Pseudolithos migiurtinus (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Bizarre Succulents

A bizarre succulent is one that suggests something it's not in an eerie way: a cancerous growth, reptile, bug or body part. When you take a second look and ponder what on earth it is, you experience a deliciously unsettling ah-ha (or bwa-ha-ha) moment.

Of course, what's bizarre is in the eye of the beholder. The gallery below presents my own subjective choices. I spotted the specimens shown here at shows and sales of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America; in collector's gardens and greenhouses; and at succulent specialty nurseries.

If you're hoping to add any these or other bizarre succulents to your collection, I suggest checking these online sources: Mountain Crest Gardens and Rojas Succulents.


Bizarre Succulents Gallery

Related info on this site

Euphorbia obesa (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Where to Find Rare Succulents

Collectors know where to find rare succulents: at shows hosted by Cactus and Succulent Society affiliate clubs. Attend one near you to see unusual plants grown and displayed perfectly; blue-ribbon winners; reasonably priced plants not found in nurseries; growers and experts; and one-of-a-kind, artist-designed pots. I like to pick out a collectible art pot and…

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Tephrocactus geometricus (c) Rich Zeh

See Rich Zeh’s 30-Year Succulent & Cactus Collection

Rich Zeh has an Aladdin’s trove of cacti and succulents. “I’m pretty much maxed out on space,” he says of his one-acre garden and greenhouse in Paradise Valley (Phoenix) Arizona.

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Bizarre succulents

Professor Mordant’s Sea-Sand Succulents

Every year as Halloween approaches, I recall my visit to Professor Mordant’s remote island to tour his collection of sea-sand succulents. The island was rumored to be an eerie, inhospitable place—a volcanic outcropping devoid of vegetation, nothing like the mainland resort where I and other garden photojournalists had been sunning ourselves in style. I alone…

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  1. Nancy Mendes on May 23, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    amazing I love 💕 succulents

  2. Steve on October 6, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Great fun! How about something for Christmas!?!

  3. Norma Prickett on October 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    This is why I love succulents, some are so bizarre and all wonderful!!

  4. Celeste Gornick on October 6, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Cleistocactus strausii ‘Kitten Dinner’, The Latin name is correct but ‘Kitten Dinner’? Hmmm. Euphorbia mounditanica, can find no reference to this Euphorbia on the internet. I have heard of a Moroccan Mound – this could be a made up name. Oreocereus shihtsuensis or a Oreocereus that resembles a Shihtsu? Interesting…but maybe it is an Oreocereus celsianus. Pseudolithos migiurtinus may be the right name but you are right in that you may want to regurgitate your last meal if you smell it’s flowers. Not sure what Notocactus ‘Buttered Popcorn’ is – looks somewhat similar to Parodia tenuicylindrica or Parodia spegazziniana. Lithops ‘Bitty Buns’. Maybe you know something about baking with African ingredients? Aloe ‘Runway’? Haven’t heard of a tree aloe by that name. But I am behind considering how many aloes there are. Agave titanota ‘Gleeful Beetle’, sure haven’t heard of that cultivar! Can you send me one so I can inspect it? Aeonium ‘Victorian Corset’. It does resemble one. But more likely, this cultivar name doesn’t exist – although it does bear a resemblance to a cultivar named ‘Arboretum’.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 6, 2020 at 5:00 pm

      Big round of applause, Celeste! Your score is 12 out of a possible 24. I gave you one point for every fake name you found and one point for each correct name you provided as well. You may very well be the winner. But to ensure you keep your standing, do you want to nail down the other 12 points? Thanks for participating—I wasn’t sure anyone would!

  5. Celeste Gornick on October 6, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Did Gerold Macrorhizus have a Gerrardanthus macrorhizus? Dioscoria elephantipes is misspelled, should be Dioscorea elephantipes. Aloe vanbalenii is correct spelling for Aloe vanbalenni. Maybe I will come back tomorrow and take another run at it…

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 6, 2020 at 8:20 pm

      Oh, my. You caught things I was unaware of. You definitely get extra points for that! Blushing here. Because those spelling errors were unintended, I’m going to correct them so no one else claims them. But you still get two extra points for them. Your total is now 17!

  6. Darcy on October 7, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    Aeonium ‘Victorian Corset’ looks like perhaps Aeonium arboreum ; Agave titanota ‘Gleeful Beetle’ might be Agave Titanota Filigree; Aloe ‘Runway” = Aloe africana?; Cleistocactus strausii ‘Kitten Dinner’ = Cleistocactus winterii “Golden Rat Tail”; Crassula polysyllabica ‘Baby’s Necklace’ = Crassula peforata ‘Baby’s Necklace’; Euphorbia mounditanica = Euphorbia mauritanica; Gerald’s macrorhizus = Gerrardanthus macrorhizus; Lithops ‘Bitty Buns’ = Lithops hookeri; Oreocereus shihtsuensis = Oreocereus celsianus; Notocactus “Buttered Popcorn” = Notocactus leninghausii ; Pseudolithos regurgitinus = Pseudolithos cubiformis or P. migiurtinus; Could not find a 12th! Thanks for a fun challenge and great photos.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 7, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      Hi Darcy — Impressive! I’m giving you 19 points out of a possible 24!

      • Darcy on October 9, 2020 at 8:07 am

        Found an overlooked clue…. I believe N. “Buttered Popcorn” should be Notocactus scopa v. murieli

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 9, 2020 at 8:34 am

          Good job Darcy, you’re the frontrunner at 20 points out of 24!

  7. Sandy Masuo on October 12, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Bowiea volubilis is commonly called “climbing onion,” rather than “pregnant onion.” The “pregnant onion” is Ornithogalum longibracteatum. Many of these featured plants are fasciated, a mutation that causes them to grow in crested or other distorted forms. It is not normal for them to grow this way and the regular forms look quite different. Interesting photos.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 12, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Oh! Good to know! Thanks, Sandy.

  8. Jennifer Holstein on October 14, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Hi! Thanks for one of the most educational challenges ever! It’s keeping me in better form to homeschool my son. Here are my best guesses so far:
    1. Aeonium Victorian Corset is very creative, adding ‘Arboretum’ improves accuracy
    2 Agave Titanota Gleeful Beetle may add ‘Filigree’
    3. Aloe Runway edit to Aloe Arborescens ‘Candelabra’
    4. Cephalocereus Palmerii edit to Cephalocereus Leucocephalus perhaps?
    5. Echeveria Lilac Frost looks more like Echeveria Etna to me
    6. Euphorbia Mounditanica edit to Mauritanica
    7. Fenestraria Aurantiaca edit to Fenestraria Rhopalophylla
    8. Haworthiopsis Coarctata edit to Haworthiopsis Attenuata
    9. Lithops Bitty Buns add Hookeri
    10. (Disclaimer if I’m way off here) Lophocereus Schotii edit to Myrtillocactus Geometrizans or the elegant Boob
    11. Myrtillocactus Geometrizans edit to Mammillaria Elongata
    12. Oreocereus Shihtsuensis edit to Cephalocereus Senilis
    13. Pachypodium Brevicaule edit to Rosulatum
    14. Pseudolithos Regurgitinus edit to Migiutinus
    Thanks, Debra!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      Jennifer! This delights me. Thanks so much for participating. You have 12 points. No one so far has more than 20 out of a possible 24. Want to give it another whirl? ;+)

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